Introducing the Trap Coin with the Golden Bait
Get ready to feast your eyes… and your fingers on the most exciting bas-relief sculpture you’ve ever seen on a Hobo Nickel – ‘The Trap With the Golden Bait’ replica.
Originally created in 2017 by Roman Booteen, this 1921 Morgan Dollar Hobo Nickel sold at Auction for $10,101. Within days, Booteen experienced an influx of requests from excited collectors wanting a piece of modern art history. Sadly, it was a limited edition of one, but it became an overnight icon.
Our stunning replica is unlike anything you’ve seen.
The obverse is a domed Morgan Dollar, featuring the iconic eagle. But it is the reverse that is the real star. It features a 1945 Gold Dos Peso core, surrounded by a spring-loaded finger trap. With the trap open, it becomes part of the border work, but try to steal the gold bait and it snaps shut. Never before has a Hobo Nickel existed with such unique sculpting and functionality.
Around the circumference, a matching inscription by Sir Walter Scott reads: AURUM MULTO MAGIS ANIMAS PERDIDIT QUAM FERRUM CORPORA CECIDIT. The meaning - “Gold has killed more souls than iron”. Booten's coin is inscribed in Latin, and we have translated it to Russian in this description to honor the coin’s original creator: ЗОЛОТО ПОГУБИЛО БОЛЬШЕ ДУШ, ЧЕМ ЖЕЛЕЗО ТЕЛ.
Needless to say, this is one coin all investors are hungry to get their hands on. And this is one coin, hungry to get its trap on your fingers.
… And in case you’re wondering, the finger trap is safe.
The Trap With the Golden Bait at a Glance:
- Authorized, licensed reproduction of Roman Booteen's original Trap Coin
- One-of-a-kind working trap mechanism
- Includes original Morgan Dollar
- Includes original Dos Pesos 1/20 Troy ounce gold coin
- Bezel, Jaws & Trap cast from 20 grams of 925 silver
- Includes certificate of authenticity
- Limited to only 999 replicas
- Individually laser-etched with serial number
- includes collector's box
- 1 year manufacturer's warranty on the moving parts
How it's made...the Tale!
Masters of the Hobo Nickel art form are known to push the limits when designing their one-of-a-kind treasures. And just when we thought we've seen it all, we learned of Roman Booteen's latest project, the Trap Coin with the Golden Bait.
Like countless other fans, we fell in love at first site. We knew the coin would be offered for sale on eBay, and we were ready to bid. We had to have that coin.
Some of the greatest carved coins sell for thousands of dollars, so we weren't surprised as the bidding heated up and reached towards the $5,000 USD mark. We set a max bid at $5,001, hopeful to win this unique heirloom. But in the final moments of the auction, the high bid soared past $5,4000, placing the coin out of reach for all but the most deep-pocketed collectors. We set a top bid of $10,100, and were equal parts crushed and relieved when the final bid beat us by $1, setting a record of $10,101 for the most expensive modern-day Hobo Nickel.
Fortunately, Booteen introduced us to the proud new owner and we were able to secure license for reproduction.
And that's when the real challenge began.
Breaking down the components:
Roman Booteen's Trap Coin with the Golden Bait seems simple enough. It's a Morgan Dollar, domed to accommodate a spring-loaded bear-style trap mechanism, with an ornate carved bezel that holds the device together. Finally, seated atop the trap is a Dos Pesos 1/20oz gold coin. Each piece of the puzzle was specifically selected to tell the Trap Coin's story:
The Morgan Dollar - contrary to conventional hobo nickel carvings, Booteen's preferred canvas is the obverse of the Morgan Dollar. While slightly harder and more difficult to carve than the traditional Indian head nickel, the larger surface affords more space for the Master to etch all that complex detailing we've come to know and love from Booteen.
The Bezel - while serving the purpose of holding the mechanism together, Booteen interwove plenty of symbols and tiny hidden details in the design.
The Dos Pesos - minted from 1919 to 2009, the Dos Pesos is a 0.0482 Troy ounce 90% gold coin minted in Mexico.
The Trap - the hungry jaws of the trap are eager to spring and trap an unwitting victim who should go after the protected gold.
Never Outshine the Master
In the case of Roman Booteen, observing this rule is quite easy. What Booteen did in a few weeks took an international team of experts nearly 18 months to reproduce.
Roman helped us get started by providing an early trap mechanism prototype, as the original $10k Trap Coin wasn't going to be dismantled. We sent the mechanism to engineers in Australia and Lichtenstein for evaluation. While the consensus was that replicaing the design was possible, it wouldn't be easy on such a very small scale. Increasing the size of the model would be the only way to easily replicate the Trap Coin, but that was out of the question. First, we wanted to make the replica as close to the original model as possible, and that meant using Morgans and Dos Pesos. Second, so much of the intrigue of Booteen's coin is how very tiny it is, and the painstaking microscopic precision required to piece it together..
Bringing the Jaws to Life
12 months and 40 computer-aided designs, 3d prints and prototype casts later, we finally had a working trap. But the trap was nothing like the Booteen's grizzly teeth. In fact, it was a dull mechanical knock-off, that lacked all signs of creativity.
That's where our digital artist & Zbrush genius Ghim Ong took up the task. Once we knew we had a working set of jaws, Ghim carefully studied Roman's original design, and modified the working trap 3d design, adding the life-like details found on the original. What Roman did in a few hours took weeks of design work to reproduce, and another several rounds of 3d prints and prototypes to test, tweak, and fit it all together.
Doming the Dollar
Once we had a designed & functioning trap, it was time to fit it all together.
The next challenge was to design a doming die and block that would accommodate the trap while not leaving extra space for shifting or misalignment. If the Morgan was domed too shallow, the device stick out the top. If it was domed too deep, we'd run the risk of the trap not fitting inside the bowl.
After a serious of miscalculations, we settled on a dome radius and set to work on designing the tool that would render such a result. And while making a single coin could be done by hand on a simple doming block, we needed something that would hold up for nearly a thousand coins!
As luck would have it, we got the formula right the first time! The doming turned out great on our little hydraulic press, putting us one step closer to achieving the impossible.
Unfortunately, the corners of the trap brace were way outside the radius limits. Ghim made the correction, another prototype was printed and cast, and for the very first time, we put all the pieces together.
With the new brace cast, we tracked down some Dos Pesos and got to work assembling the replica. With all the pieces of the puzzle fine-tuned, it only took a few hours from there to complete the first official prototype, bringing tears to the eyes of our exhausted team.
The final step was to seal the trap to the Morgan, which was the perfect task for our 30 watt fiber laser welder. With the precision to lay down a thin layer of silver exactly where it needs to go comes a lot of heat, and the tiny springs inside the trap are incredibly sensitive to high temperatures. So, to generate a minimum amount of heat, we could only laser weld a tiny 3mm section of the coin at a time - allowing the material to cool for 30 minutes between welds. Sealing a single trap coin alltogether requires more than 10 hours!
The Ends Justifies the Means
But with all said and done, the Roman Booteen's Trap Coin with the Golden Bait - the officially licensed Silver Hobo Nickel replica - is a true modern art and engineering marvel. While our team was able to reproduce it - at a cost of more than $20,000 and 18 months of time - it makes one thing abundantly clear:
Roman Booteen is a genius.
First, think of the kind of imagination required to even dream something like this up! How many people look at a tiny coin and say "hey, that would make an amazing functioning trap with real jaws and solid gold bait"?
Second, with no point of reference to follow, Booteen created all of this from nothing....just an image in his mind and his steadfast determination to obtain the nearly impossible. Our team did it too - but we had Roman to copy. Roman had none of this, and pulled it off with ease.
Finally, have you seen what else he's done SINCE THEN!? While we were busy trying to figure out how Booteen did it, he's been busy making half a dozen epic creations...and we would be nuts to try and replicate them!
Your Chance to Own a Piece of Coin History
It's unknown if the lucky buyer who snagged Roman Booteen's record-setting original Trap Coin with the Golden Bait will ever put it up for sale. Our guess is that his prized possession will hold a special place in his collection, and the tale that it tells will be told for generations.
But thanks to Roman's gracious permission to reproduce and our team's unyielding determination, you have one more chance to own the authorized replica. Only 999 replicas will ever be produced so reserve yours now before the opportunity is gone - again, and forever.